Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three against one

Monday, October 30, 2006

Eight days before a Rove-run election

Is a bad time to be a Pakistani on the Afghan border.

Dick Morris, you've been heard.

Genius

John Hinderaker:
It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.
Tony Snow:
(President Bush) reminds me of one of those guys who walks through a gym playing 40 games of chess at once and can keep all the moves in his head.
And then there's this:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hey Republicans! Lieberman is playing you all for suckers!

That's how I read this:
"I will believe that, if this works out and I win, it is because people wanted me to be their senator for a lot more reasons than Iraq."
Lieberman is finally seeing that, if he wins, he's simply going to have to fall in line with Democrats on Iraq or he'll be a pariah. So he's foreshadowing his flip-flop on Iraq--which I'm sure he'll justify by saying he's following the desires of the people of Connecticut--by saying that Iraq isn't really the reason he's being elected. He's been edging that way for a while.

Even though we know full well that he's being elected because Republicans have decided he's their best chance to keep a pro-Bushie in the Connecticut Senate seat.

Me, if I were from Connecticut, I'd vote for Lamont, but I have to say that I love the fact that Lieberman is setting up a pivot that will only be possible because he's close to being re-elected by the Republicans from whom he's preparing to run.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Silly liberals just see racism everywhere

Over at TPMmuckraker,they're reporting on the new Republican flyers in Tennessee. I wonder why anyone thought there might be racial overtones in this race. The flyer reads:
Vote early to preserve your way of life.
Where have I heard that before?
A vote for Truman electors is a direct order to our Congressmen and Senators from Mississippi to vote for passage of Truman's so-called civil rights program in the next Congress. This means the vicious FEPC - anti-poll tax - anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the land and our way of life in the South will be gone forever. Get in the fight for STATES' RIGHTS - Fight for THURMOND and WRIGHT.
Oh my.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Friday Random Ten

Always a weird mix
  1. "Things you can do" - TV on the Radio
  2. "Modern Girl" - Sleater-Kinney

  3. "No Man's Land" - Sufjan Stevens
  4. "Joker and the Thief" - Wolfmother
  5. "Gone" - Pearl Jam

  6. "Live Like You Were Dying" - Tim McGraw
  7. "Conventional Wisdom" - Built to Spill
  8. "This is England" - The Clash
  9. "Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)" - Wu-Tang Clan

  10. "Bones" - The Killers
Bonus #11: "Crazy Little Pimp Called Love" - Q-Unit. If you like Queen or 50 Cent, you have to go and get this mash-up disc before the RIAA takes it away from you.

Giving Bush the benefit of the doubt

George Bush told his circle of jerks that, aw shucks, you shouldn't think twice about him calling a distinguished statesman like James Baker "Jimmy" during his recent press conference.
It's just what I call him. I mean, it's like – I've never heard anybody call him James. And you know, we just – I've known him forever. This is a guy who was my dad's campaign manager in one of his first congressional races, you know, and so he's always been known – no, don't read anything into it.
That sounds reasonable. It's also why James Baker calls Dubya "George's dumbass son."

You must read the entire transcript of this pitiful lovefest, though. Editor and Publisher has a nice rundown here. The lowpoint is Lawrence Kudlow begging Bush for good news and Bush saying he'd really like some, too, then following up with how hard he's "trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better."

Heaven help us.

Desperate times

George "I'm losing and it's all Macaca's fault" Allen has turned to desperate measures and released, according to Matt Drudge, a list of excerpts from James Webb's books suggesting that Webb writes porn.

Atrios had the first response to this, quoting Senator/Saint John McCain's review of one of Webb's books. "It captures well the lingering scars of the war, and exposes the tension between the dynamism of a new generation and the invisible bondage of an older generation for whom wartime allegiances, and animosities, are rendered no less vivid by the passage of time."

Here are some more reviews of Lost Soldiers:
"Webb's writing and plot both get top marks." - Sea Power, January 2003

"The background setting for Lost Soldiers is the rice paddies, villages, and foothills leading up to the Que Son mountain range west of Danang. An area once known to the 1st Marine Division as the “Arizona Territory,” this was where Marine Lieutenant Webb fought his war and was critically wounded. His experiences there account for the undercurrent of emotion that weaves its way through this, his latest novel...

"Jim Webb has the rare talent of being able to draw the reader into a scene, be it a Saigon disco, a Vietnamese village, a slaughter pen in Thailand, or a general's quarters with a sweeping view of Pearl Harbor. Undeniably, he has visited the places about which he writes, and with the gift of a true literary artist he captures the surrounding environment of sights, sounds, smells, and emotions. One cannot find a more entertaining or educational tale about the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Nor can one find a better author to write about it." - Major General Jarvis D. Lynch Jr., USMC, Retired, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 2002

"Readers may recall my unbounded admiration for James Webb, one of our finest war novelists since Stephen Crane. It is a pleasure to report that Webb's Lost Soldiers (Bantam Books, $25) is fully up to his high standards--taut with skillfully narrated realism. It is a tale of the search for two American traitors who caused the death of Marines in a remote outpost in Vietnam. No one else has ever conveyed better the dangers, risks and horrors of our war in Vietnam. Once again we see and live through the misery, terror and hardship of infantry fighting in that strange land--a land that Webb has clearly come to love." - Caspar Weinberger, Forbes, October 29, 2001

A George Felix Flashback: "My friends, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas and it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something."

Ralph Peters is now officially batshit crazy

Ralph Peters' latest choice for Iraq:
If we can't leave a democracy behind, we should at least leave the corpses of our enemies.

The holier-than-thou response to this proposal is predictable: "We can't kill our way out of this situation!" Well, boo-hoo. Friendly persuasion and billions of dollars haven't done the job. Give therapeutic violence a chance.

Our soldiers and Marines are dying to protect a government whose members are scrambling to ally themselves with sectarian militias and insurgent factions. President Bush needs to face reality. The Maliki government is a failure.
Here's what would happen if we did what Peters suggests. The violence in Iraq would explode. Period. More troops (and, undoubtedly, innocent Iraqis) would die for a war in which Peters says there's only a slight chance we "can achieve a few of our goals"--whatever they are. So Peters is saying that the lives of American soldiers are worth whatever respect we can still salvage from the depths of Bush's quagmire.

The fact that this amoral asshole ever led troops disgusts me.

Two statements

Please explain the difference between these two statements. Both speakers are describing the culpability of rape victims:
Statement A: "If one puts uncovered meat out in the street, or on the footpath, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard, without a cover and then the cats come and eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem."

Statement B: "Now Moore, Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college. She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning."
Statement A is, of course, more grammatically correct, but I can't find a real qualitative difference between the two statements other than that. These are obviously the statements of misogynistic pricks willing to suggest that victims of rape were just asking for it. Disgusting.

Here's where the difference comes in: The speaker of Statement A was immediately and roundly pilloried by his national press. The speaker of Statement B, on the other hand, was awarded with an interview with his nation's leader. As an added twist, one of the newspapers calling most loudly for the head of the speaker of Statement A is owned by the same man for whom the speaker of Statement B works.

How does this work and how did our society get so sick?

Cry unfair! And unleash the dogs of whine!

Poor, poor Republicans. Getting picked on by those mean old Democrats...

Tucker Carlson says it isn't fair to make him feel things.
On the other hand, this ad really bothers me. I think it is a form of moral blackmail. No matter where you stand on stem cell research, I look at this ad and I say, I can‘t disagree with Michael J. Fox because his illness is so sad it pulls on me emotionally so much, it feels immoral to me to disagree with him. And I think it‘s unfair of you to run this ad for that reason.
Jean Schmidt says it isn't fair to show her saying things.
Rep. Jean Schmidt blasted Democrat Victoria Wulsin on Wednesday for allegedly breaking a U.S. House rule that prohibits using the broadcast of House floor proceedings in campaign ads.

"Her continued violation will land her in serious trouble with the House Ethics Committee," Schmidt's spokesman Matt Perin said in a release, referring to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which the release mistakenly referred to elsewhere as the "House Committee on Official Standards and Conduct."

Besides those errors, there's just one more tiny problem: Wulsin, who is challenging Schmidt in the 2nd District, is not a member of the House. Not yet anyway.

Wulsin's new ad shows Schmidt telling Democratic Rep. John Murtha that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
Dick Devos and other Michigan Republicans say it isn't fair for rich liberals to spend money on political ads like he does.
Dick DeVos might have met his financial match.

Kalamazoo medical supply company billionaire Jon Stryker and his organization are pouring millions of dollars into commercials opposing Republicans, including the wealthy DeVos.

In the TV ads, a narrator singing in an operatic voice accuses Republican lawmakers of giving tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs, not doing enough to stop Canadian and out-of-state trash from being dumped in Michigan, and backing a state law that protects drug makers from lawsuits. They depict gubernatorial candidate DeVos sending jobs to China. The cartoon ads show elephants dressed up like lawmakers to make the point.

Republicans accuse the group of holding an ultra-liberal agenda and putting an unprecedented amount of money into legislative races. Democrats say fair is fair, especially because DeVos has given so much money to his own campaign against Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Florida anti-abortions activists say it isn't fair to say you're "pro-life" when you won't do what they want. (But, if you're a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they'll vote for you anyway).
Charlie Crist says he is proud to be ''pro-life,'' and a Republican Party of Florida mailer calls the candidate for governor a ``pro-life leader.''

But voters watching Tuesday's televised forum with Democrat Jim Davis heard Crist offer a position that puzzled activists on both sides of the abortion debate...

''A pro-lifer is someone who gets out there and defends the unborn,'' she said. ``He talked about keeping to himself and not wanting to get involved in the political process. . . . It isn't fair to the community as a whole to say you are pro-life.''

Aman said she still plans to vote for Crist because she thinks he would listen to anti-abortion activists and Davis wouldn't.
Greg Sheffield seems to think it isn't fair for Democrats to use the tools available to them to define Republicans.
Democrats are "bombing" the Google News site in order to ensure that any news about 50 Republican candidates will go to articles by left-wingers.

Tony Snow on race

So it isn't the Republican party "looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization" (Ken Mehlman's words not mine)? Nope. Tony Snow says it's the blacks.
I think there is always an attempt when you have got an African-American candidate to try to attribute something to the race card.
Yep, it's always race with those people, ain't it, Tony? How else could they get elected?

Dumbass.

Go read Josh Marshall's post on Republicans and race. He's right on.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

O'Reilly v. reality

Yesterday, Billo said the idea of a Taliban resurgence is "a myth."

Why does Bill think this? "Every military analyst" at Fox News and, well, everyone else. WHen his guest said he should talk to the soldiers "on the ground," Bill said he "talked to everybody."

Strange that no one told him about this.
U.S. military officials tell ABC News cross-border attacks by the Taliban are up "300 percent" since President Musharraf declared a "truce" with tribal leaders in the troubled Northern Waziristan region that borders Afghanistan.

A great slate of candidates

So said Karl Rove on Hannity tonight.

Other people seem to think differently...

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Friday, October 20, 2006

Terrorists with gills

Heroes

I've had Pat Tillman's quote posted above ever since I read about it. He was a soldier, a scholar and a hero.

Today, there's more evidence that the Tillman family gets it. Pat's brother and fellow Ranger, Kevin Tillman, writes:
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
You must read the whole thing. It's a call for everyone to perform the simple service of voting for change, delivered as only a soldier can.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

God God, do I hate Victor Davis Hanson!

But, then again, who doesn't hate a historian who doesn't know his history?
It used to be that out-of-office chief executives kept relatively hush. Presidents Ford and Bush Sr. - both voted out of office - did not bray when President Clinton had his trials, personal and otherwise.
Oh, really?

Riverside California's Press-Enterprise, March 9, 1994:
In an hour-long speech to about 900 people at the Stouffer Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells, Bush also said that the Clinton administration "has simply not gotten its act together yet" in foreign policy. Bush said he did not want to be a carping critic, but said President Clinton must be more consistent in carrying out foreign policy. Bush criticized the president in particular for sending a shipload of troops to Haiti last year and then ordering them home when "thugs" threatened them from the shore.
Washingtonian, February 1994:
BUSH: Now, on the specifics: Somalia -- I used a formula whenever I had to commit American forces anywhere. First, define the mission, don't be fuzzy about what you're trying to accomplish. Second, have the military, the people who have to carry it out, tell you how the mission can be accomplished, and when. And third, and equally important, how do you get out and when do you get out? How do you complete the mission, how do you exit?

Now, in Somalia we formed a coalition to go in and accomplish the mission. In phase one, the mission was to end the starvation, open the supply lines; then, in phase two, it was to turn the peace-keeping and peace-making over to the United Nations. We formed another coalition to carry out the second phase...

That was our original mission, and our military carried it out beautifully. The supply lines were opened, and at that point the operation became one for the United Nations to carry out. But somehow, the Clinton team lost sight of that, and we found our forces crossing a line, asked to carry out a different, more far-reaching mission -- one whose logistics and consequences hadn't been carefully thought out or planned for. And for that, I fault the Clinton support team -- the NSC, State, and Defense departments. You can't just drift on foreign-policy matters. You have to make decisions and have clearly defined goals, especially when you commit American forces overseas.
Associated Press, February 3, 1994
Making a rare return to Washington to refly the flag of the Reagan Revolution, Ronald Reagan accused President Clinton and the Democrats of stealing his ideas while trying to discredit his record...

Flying over the capital, he said, "I could just see the excitement on the faces of the bureaucrats - knowing they would soon be managing our national health care system! Up on Capitol Hill, I saw that big white dome, bulging with new tax revenues."
Boston Globe, October 23, 1993:
Top former officials of the Bush administration are increasingly assailing President Clinton's foreign policy, targeting his efforts in Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia.

The former officials deny any orchestrated attack, but a number of them have joined the barrage after months of little comment on Clinton's foreign policy. Prominent among the critics are former Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former press secretary Marlin Fitzwater.

Former President Bush himself, who once vowed not to criticize Clinton in public for a year, has made derogatory comments, as has former Vice President Dan Quayle, coming out of a lengthy hiatus in Indiana. In the months ahead, it is likely that the attacks from the out-of-office GOP officials will intensify if Clinton appears to struggle.

"If you are going to put somebody else's son or daughter into harm's way, into battle, you've got to know the answer to three questions," Bush told an elementary school audience in San Antonio recently. Those are what is the mission, how will it be accomplished and how will the troops be withdrawn, he said.
Bush at the 1996 Republican Convention:
It breaks my heart when the White House is demeaned -- the presidency itself diminished. Bob Dole as president will treat the White House with respect, his staff will be beyond even the appearance of impropriety, and in the process he will increase respect for the United States of America all across the world.
And here's an editorial from Ronald Reagan, published less than a month after Clinton was inaugurated [Update for an e-mailer: No, this is not an hoax from an e-mail, but, you're right, I should have said that this was an op-ed Reagan published in The New York Times on February 18, 1993. It's title was "There They Go Again."]
Less than one month ago, our nation showed the world the strength of our democratic system with the peaceful transfer of Presidential power from one elected citizen to another and, incidentally, from one political party to another. While it is no secret that I would have preferred a different scenario that day, I have great respect for our constitutional system and would like to support our new President.

I had every intention of holding back any comments on the new Administration until it was well in place and its policies became clear. Unfortunately, the policies are already becoming alarmingly clear. With campaign promises dropping like autumn leaves, I can't refrain any longer.

"First, we're going to raise the taxes on the people that did well in the 1980's," the Clinton Administration says. Did I hear that right? I'm afraid so! Do they really believe that those who have worked hard and been successful should somehow be punished for it? Is success in the 1980's, or any time for that matter, supposed to be something we as Americans are to be embarrassed about?

I hate to confuse their economic thinking with a few facts, but if they were to look at the 1980's, they would find that America experienced its longest period of peacetime economic expansion in our history. They would find that America led the world out of a global economic recession and that our economy was the envy of virtually every other nation. They would see that we created nearly 19 million new jobs for Americans of all income levels. And it may shock the Clinton Administration to discover that most of the economic gains of the 1980's were made by low- and middle-income citizens, not the wealthiest Americans.

Earlier this week, President Clinton said, "I know we have learned the hard lessons of the 1980's." I didn't realize they were so hard to learn. The fundamental lesson of the 1980's was that when you cut taxes for everyone, people have the incentive to work harder and invest, to make a better life for themselves and their families.

If the new Administration doesn't want to look back as far as the 1980's, maybe it will at least look back at the summer of 1992. Candidate Bill Clinton was promising that, if elected, he would provide a tax cut for the middle class. Now, in less than one month of his Presidency, that promise of a tax cut has not only been broken but it has been reversed into a tax increase for middle-income workers...

We must also listen for the sound of the other shoe to drop: the Clintons' health program. This will almost certainly involve proposals for another round of taxes later this year, and you can bet those won't be levied on a handful of millionaires.

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that alchemists could turn base metals into gold. Now it appears that alchemists in President Clinton's Administration hope to turn a huge tax increase into economic growth. Alchemy didn't work then and it won't work now. Taxes have never succeeded in promoting economic growth. More often than not, they have led to greater economic downturns.

In his campaign, candidate Clinton described himself as a "new Democrat," implying that there would be no more tax-and-spend dogma, no social engineering, no class warfare pitting one group against another. This week, however, he has begun to sound like an "old Democrat." That's the kind who does not understand one simple fact: the problem is not that the people are taxed too little, the problem is that the Government spends too much.

Until President Clinton and the liberals in Congress accept that principle and act accordingly, I'm afraid we are headed for a repeat of the late 1970's. And that is something we can all live without.

No one can dispute that the enormous budget deficit is a major threat to the economic security of our country. But let us remember that deficits are caused by spending. By the very terms of our Constitution, only Congress has the power to spend...
VeeDee Hanson: The Forgetter.

(Hat tip TBogg.)

Shorter RNC

Vote Republican because Osama's still out there and we're really, really gonna get him this time.
Funny how they only think about this guy at election time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Overheard in the Florida panhandle

Near the snackbar in my building, two men were talking. Clearly, they were old friends having a discussion about politics in what appeared to be another in a long series of needling, jokey discussions about politics. Here's my paraphrased transcript:
Democrat:...looks like we're about to get rid of a bunch of your crooked buddies.

Republican: Crooked? Did you see that stuff about Harry Reid?

Democrat: Shit, you know there's nothing there. (William) Jefferson's the only Democrat who seems to be a real crook and he got kicked off his committee and the party told him he can go to hell.

Republican: Well, it's easy to act squeaky clean when you've only got one guy being investigated.

[A pause, as both men realize what was just said.]

[Both men burst into laughter.]

Monday, October 16, 2006

The shifting ethics of Howard Kurtz

Today, Howard Kurtz had a little chat on WaPo online:
Rolla, Mo.: You may know there are conspiracy theories in the liberal blogosphere right now that the "October surprise" promised by Rove is a strike against Iran. The pretext for this speculation are recent movements by a carrier group to the Persian Gulf, set to arrive by the end of the month. Has anyone in the MSM looked at this, or is it such a normal exercise that it warrants no attention?

Howard Kurtz: I don't know whether any of my colleagues have looked into this. My basic position is that we shouldn't report rumors or conspiracy theories unless we have solid evidence to back it up.
Apparently, that's a recent rule, as I pointed out a few days ago. Here's Kurtzy on the bullshit accusations of infidelity lobbed at John Kerry:
There is, as you both know, an unsubstantiated rumor bouncing around the Internet, started by Drudge, about John Kerry's personal life...
Nice pivot, Howie.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gerry Studds dead

He must have been comforted in his final days by the fact he was hated by the right sorts of peoople.

The new hotness

WaPo: Democrats are teh sex.

A statement

The United States has sacrificed enough for the people of Iraq, and now it is time that they take on most of the burden of their security in their country and let U.S. troops to start to come home.

Who says?

Three-fourths of the American public.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson: On to Asculum!*

Billmon has an excellent post up about my good friend Victor Davis Hanson's most recent essay, another in a long line of slight-of-hand tricks from Hanson, who intends not to enlighten but to obfuscate.

Billmon calls Hanson's writing since the beginning of the war "deluded crap," but I think he's got it wrong. Hanson isn't deluded. Not by a long shot. Hanson seems to me to have realized the same thing that the Coulters and O'Reillys of the world learned well before the war--prostitution pays better than respectability.

Consider this: Hanson used to be simply a respected professor (see note at bottom) and author of some well-received histories. But being "well-received" in academia and among military strategy-types, while nice, doesn't set the accountant's estate tax alarm off, if you know what I mean. Since he began writing for National Review and giving faux-military-tough-guy cover to the Bushies, however, things certainly have changed for Vic. According to the Los Angeles Times, he received an advance of 500 thousand dollars for his latest book, another history of the Pelopennesian War called A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

So, what would make Random House fork over a half mil for a history of a war which occurred over 2400 years ago--despite the fact that previous histories had been published by respected authors in each of the two years prior to Hanson's retelling? Well, it wasn't the effort, that's for sure. In the book, Hanson treads the same ground he's walked in previous books and even picks slices of it up once trod upon and tosses them forward a few pages so he can step on them all over again. You used to be able to nitpick Hanson's scholarship and his desire to overlay his views over history without seeming to attach them completely, but this is the first book of Hanson's which bored me.

Random House, I'm sure, is fine with that. They weren't buying Hanson the scholar, but Hanson the neocon prostitute, who cherrypicks facts from the past to provide "context" for the present:Yes, thousands of dead Americans is unfortunate, but, of course the War of 1812 Pearl Harbor The Spanish-American War The Civil War killed many, many more, so weep not, ye widows. Or:
(W)e must keep the allegations (of torture at Abu Ghraib) in some sort of historical context. Even at their worst, these disturbing incidents are not comparable to past atrocities such as the June 1943 killing of prisoners in Sicily, the machine-gunning of civilians at the No Gun Ri railway bridge in Korea, or My Lai.
And then, like the hooker forgetting the moans of a minute before as she counts the money at the bedside table, he rails against the moral relativism of the left.

Don't worry, Random House, as long as they get the moaning first, rightwingers will buy anything the whore slaps his name on. (Don't count on them reading it, though.)

How does Hanson do it with a straight face? Well, it's possible that he's simply deluded. One reviewer wrote of a Hanson book that "there is a concentration on the military confrontations themselves, with certain downplaying of the political and cultural contexts." Perhaps, to Hanson, battles are the only context needed to understand battle--or, for that matter, the boring stuff in between battles we call peace, commerce, love and other like folderol.

I think, however, that Hanson has realized that he's mostly read by a pack of folks who aren't, shall we say, detail-oriented. Like the RCA victor mascot--or any good dog--they recognize voices and tone, but they only learn simple phrases: Sit! Stay! Death tax! Islamofascism! All VeeDee Hanson has to do, then, is to cloud the waters a bit and collect his money.

Which brings us to his most recent essay.

Hanson argues initially that there's something a bit queer about the books Cobra II, State of Denial, and Fiasco. There's just too darn many anonymous sources. Of course he's right. Why, Lord, haven't we learned from the Watergate scandal, when a single anonymous source duped the country by telling tales which proved to be the God's honest truth? How can a Republican administration compete with that? Why can't people realize that Karl Rove is the only official source of anonymous quotes? And, if the sources are anonymous, how can the Bushies "fact check" their statements in a habeas corpus-free Caribbean environment?

A pity. And damn unfair.

The crux of Hanson's piece, however, comes near the end of the piece, in three small bits. First he says:
Usually the unidentified source supports the author's critique -- and thus is almost always critical of the present policy in Iraq.
Hanson is more than likely putting the chicken before the egg here. For example, Hanson left George Packer's Assassin's Gate off his list. It's really the first of the recent, devastating critiques of the Bushies' fumbles in Iraq and Packer unabashedly supported the war. Tom Ricks is no ideologue, either, so I'd be willing to bet Fiasco wasn't the first title he had planned for his book. In other words, fiasco came before Fiasco and that isn't Tom Ricks' fault.

Hanson goes on with point two:
here is the cardinal rule for anonymous sources in this new genre of pseudo-history: Talk to reporters as soon as possible "off the record" in hopes that they will be sympathetic.
There are two things that piss me off about this. First, Hanson wrote a few paragraphs earlier that these writers were trying to give their books a "patina of scholarly credibility" and, in order to demonstrate what that means, talks about the controversy surrounding Thucydides' habit of putting words in his subjects' mouths. He also says that historians have now "agree to draw on information that can be checked by others." So, where does this "scholar" get off reading the minds of those who chose to remain anonymous? How, exactly do I check his assertion?

Secondly, Ricks has a thing for guys' in uniform and exalts their views above others. So Hanson is primarily saying that military officers are spinning to cover their own failures. While I've met some venal bastards with brass on their collars in my time in the military, they were few and far between. What a piss-poor view Hanson must have of our warrior clase to think they would find it better to lie about their leaders than to accept responsibility. On the contrary, I'd be willing to bet that they consider their actions, as I do, the proper duties of patriots.

In his recent letter to John McCain which prematurely applauded the senator's seemingly firm, but ulitmately brittle, stand against torture, Colin Powell talked about a book. It appears General Jack Vessey brought it up first, but Powell endorsed Vessey's reference of it.
I am as familiar with The Armed Forces Officer as is Vessey. It was written after all the horrors of World War II...to tell the world and to remind our soldiers of our moral obligations with respect to those in our custody.
But that isn't nearly all. The Armed Forces Officer is still an official military document (pdf link) was recently updated, but still includes this paragraph.
Within our school of military thought, higher authority does not consider itself infallible. Either in combat or out, any time a situation arises where a majority of military-trained Americans become undutiful, that is a very good reason for higher authority to resurvey its own judgments, disciplines and line of action.
Again, I wouldn't say these officers have been "undutiful," but they're certainly talking out of school and better civilian leader would ask themselves if they might be somewhat culpable.

Finally, though, Hanson offers this warning.
When one writes military history in the middle of a war, there is a responsibility to be extra careful. Real-time interpretations don't just offer lessons about the past but may change the very course of events as they happen.
As much as Hanson would like you to think that journalists peeking into the box are responsible for killing Schrödinger's cat, he was either dead or he wasn't. Iraq is clearly fucked and book after book--not to mention every new episode of the nightly news--just drives that point home.

The most important point, though, is that these books aren't "military history," but journalism, which leads to a point that Hanson either fails or refuses to grasp: Journalism is supposed to "change the course of events"! In a free society, journalism should be the means by which an informed public decides which direction they want their nation to take. What is that, if not changing the course of events? In fact, that's why people like me were so disappointed with the media before the Iraq war. If they'd done their job better, Hanson might still be pissing and moaning about America's "failure to exercise moral authority," but 2,800 American service members and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive.

And we'd have fewer terrorists. Perhaps Hanson, as a military historian, can explain to me the historical context which will make me feel better about a war which provides our enemies with a net manpower gain and seems to have convinced others that we are no longer a military concern.

In the end, though, Hanson never really wants to deal in meaningful discussions of history or context. He just wants to dangle history and his reputation before his readers like a bright red ball, swing his arm in fake throwing motion and giggle to himself as they run far afield, chasing nothing.


Note: I received the following in an e-mail:
"Respected" my ass. I mentioned his name once on the blog and the classicists nearly shit themselves. They said he was regarded as a joke in their field, a second rate writer at a third rate school. Some of his earlier works weren't bad, but in terms of classical historians, he is regarded as little better than a buffoon.
The reason I believe he was regarded with respect prior to 9/11 is because I had reason back then to look through many military history syllabi--I am not a military historian myself, but was considering the study--and saw his books on many of the reading lists, especially The Soul of Battle.


* Wikipedia: "A narrow Epirotic victory, it is this battle which gave rise to the phrase "Pyrrhic victory," meaning a victory so costly that the victors do not gain much. Pyrrhus is reported to have said afterwards, 'One more such victory and I shall be lost!'"

Ladies and Gentlemen, Tony Snow

I meant to point this out the day he said it, but got sidetracked.

Here's Tony Snow defending Bush's "comma" reference at a recent press briefing:
Q: (W)hat did the President mean the Iraqi war is only a comma?

Mr. SNOW: ...This has been brewed around; Peter had a word or two to say about it today. The comma refers to the period of time between last year's election and today. We're talking about -- well, the President is making the point is, when you look at a history book, a 10-month period is a comma. Now, some people have tried to say, how dare the President refer to this as a comma; he's being glib about the deaths of Americans. That's outrageous, and the people who say that know it. What they're trying to is, willingly or not, wrench a statement out of context and try to use that as an opportunity to accuse a President who is deeply aware of the human cost of war of being calloused about those costs. It's just not true...if you look in the broad sweep of history, that will be seen as a comma.
Time from D-Day to V-E Day? Eleven months.

Does the extra month mean that the Allied invasion of Europe at least rates a semicolon?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bill O'Reilly: Iran was pro-Reagan

On Monday, Bill O'Reilly said that attacks in Iraq are led by Iran and are designed to put Democrats in power. Of course he's an idiot, but I thought this was particularly funny. I'm not sure this was exactly what he intended to say:
Now Iran wants to keep the USA pinned down in Iraq so America cannot rally the opposition against Tehran for their nuclear ambitions and other things. It also wants to weaken President Bush in the upcoming election. You remember Iran destroyed Jimmy Carter's re-election chances in 1980 with the hostage fiasco.
Doesn't that seem to suggest that Ayatollah Khomeini wanted Reagan to win? Isn't he saying that Iran is trying to trick Americans into voting the way they want, just like they did in 1980?

Money, meet mouth

I know that everyone has been giving 'til it hurts this election season and it's showing. I hate to do this, but I'm going to ask you to give a little more.

I want everyone to donate a few dollars to The Warrior Fund.

Yes, it's a fund run by people who seem to believe that all atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a terrorist propaganda campaign, but I'm going to ask you to overlook that. This money goes to defending American service members. We, as liberals, believe in due process for all--and that means soldiers, accused terrorists and even (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease) Republican presidents.

So I'm asking you to help provide an adequate defense for our accused service members. I'll be the first to say they should have the book thrown at them if proven guilty, but, until then, I don't want anyone to have to defend himself against this government alone.

Five for five?

The Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced tomorrow. Americans have already swept four of the six prizes and I think the trend will continue tomorrow.

This could be Cormac McCarthy's year.

Thoughts? Contenders?

Update: Contenders suggested in e-mail include
  • Philip Roth
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Joyce Carol Oates
God help me, I love a longshot.

(And while we're at it, McCarthy, who's known to be a conservative, probably predicted Iraq wouldn't work out quite the way the Bushies expected. A poet of violence and man's tendency to become a wolf to man, he's not one to embrace wishful thinking. As he wrote in All the Pretty Horses:
The world is quite ruthless in selecting between the dream and the reality, even where we will not. Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.
And then everybody spoke Spanish for about four pages.)

Idiot attacks Harry Reid!

I've been reading John Solomon's hit piece on Harry Reid (and the subsequent posts of others which demonstrate at length he's both a hack in general and wrong on this specific piece) and I just can't help laughing at this dipshit. Just read this bit, in which he attempts to make Reid's actions seem nefarious.
The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to Brown's company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later.
Sounds sneaky, huh? Unless, of course, you have even a glancing knowledge of a legal entity known as a limited liability corporation:
Like a corporation, an LLC is a separate and distinct legal entity. This means that an LLC can obtain a tax identification number, open a bank account and do business, all under its own name. The primary advantage of an LLC is that its owners, known as members, are not personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the LLC. For example, if an LLC loses a big lawsuit and is forced into bankruptcy, the members will not be required to make up the difference with their own money. If the assets of the LLC are not enough to cover the debts and liabilities, the creditors cannot look to the members, managers or officers for recovery.

An LLC can be taxed either as a "pass-through" entity, like a partnership or sole proprietorship, or as a regular corporation. By default, an LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity, and the owners of the LLC are not subject to double taxation. This is different from a regular corporation, which pays a corporate tax on its net income (the first tax) and then a second tax when the corporation distributes profits, as the stockholders pay income tax on dividends. With an LLC, the profits "pass through" to the owners, who pay taxes at their individual tax rates.
Ownership, legal liability and tax consequences? Yep, yep and yep.

I've decided that John Solomon is trying really really hard to get fired from AP and prove he's stupid enough to host his own show on Fox.

Update: What makes this hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny is Solomon's statement that Reid sold the property "without public knowledge."

Yet the linked story above is illustrated by the pic on the left, which is, as the caption says is an "image of a deed provided by the Clark County (Nev.) Recorder, shows a June 13, 2001, deed with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's signature for a sale of land to a limited liability corporation created by Jay Brown, a longtime friend and former casino lawyer. Reid did not disclose the sale on his annual public ethics report or tell Congress he had any stake in Brown's company. He continued to report to Congress that he personally owned the land."

First, deeds are public documents so how is Reid supposed to have done this "without public knowledge"?

Second, I'd love for Solomon to explain exactly how not reporting this transfer to an L.L.C., in which Reid was a partnership, is supposed to have benefited Harry Reid. You know if Reid had reported the transfer, the Solomons of the world would be saying he was trying to hide his ownership.

Dear Republicans, you might want to get better hacks, because, as I've said before

The circuitous route of the "Straight Talk Express"

Dear media types:
John McCain said Jerry Falwell was an "agent of intolerance," a "corrupting influence" on politics in America and an "evil influence" on the Republican Party. Then he went to speak at Falwell's school, with no mention of its founder's proclivity toward evil, corrupt intolerance. Next stop: Bob Jones University. We'll see if he tells "them exactly what (he) think of them," which is that "things that they espouse, including a ban on interracial dating, are personally offensive to me" and he hates their "anti-Catholic and racial discrimination" policies.

John McCain railed against soft money and got a bill passed outlawing certain types of fundraising, then repeatedly violates that law.

John McCain says he's anti-torture, but then gives Bush the right to torture.

John McCain said yesterday that North Korea's nuclear test was Clinton's fault, but today says he thinks "this is the wrong time for us to be engaging in finger pointing..."
The "Straight Talk Express" is dead, media types. Long live the Arizona Sidewinder!

Republican-leaning media puts kids at risk

The headline above should be screaming around the world right now. Denny Hastert is right that there was a coverup in the media (and not only his office), but he's right for the wrong reason.

You see, it’s recently come to light that a Republican leaked Mark Foley’s original e-mails to a number of people, including a Democrat. That Democrat spent nearly a year trying to get someone to pay attention, while the media showed him or her the hand.
"There was never a plan to undermine the GOP or to destroy Hastert personally, as the speaker has vaingloriously suggested," Ken Silverstein, Washington editor for Harper's, said on the magazine's Web site yesterday. "I know this with absolute certainty because Harper's was offered the story almost five months ago."

Silverstein said his source was a "Democratic operative," the same source that had provided the e-mail exchanges to the St. Petersburg Times in November 2005. Both the magazine and the paper declined to publish a story. But the source "was not working in concert with the national Democratic Party," Silverstein added. "This person was genuinely disgusted by Foley's behavior, amazed that other publications had declined to publish stories about the emails, and concerned that Foley might still be seeking contact with pages."
For the record, the Supreme Allied Commander of Left Blogosphere—Generalissimo Kos—says that this is “makes some sense.”
If you are the media, and a Democrat offers you these emails, skepticism would be warranted and understandable. Regardless of timing, the story was explosive, and one would wonder at motives and veracity of the story. But when a Republican who has nothing partisan to gain from the story comes forth, the story immediately becomes more credible.
I say bullshit!

Sure, I get what Kos is saying, but he’s actually acting as if we’re living in a fair media environment. Doesn’t anyone else remember how eagerly the media jumped on baseless suggestions that John Kerry was having an affair? Here’s how it was covered by Howard Kurtz on CNN:
KURTZ: OK, let me jump in here. There is, as you both know, an unsubstantiated rumor bouncing around the Internet, started by Drudge, about John Kerry's personal life. We are not going to describe it at all, but Senator Kerry did go on the Imus show Friday morning. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there is nothing to report. So there is nothing to talk about. I'm not worried about it. No. The answer is no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Andrew Sullivan, you wrote about this on your blog. Any second thoughts, any guilty feelings about furthering the conversation or something that you don't know whether it's true, I don't know whether it's true.

SULLIVAN: Well, what we do know, a friend of mine called up and said is this going to go mainstream? And my answer was, well, it's on the Drudge Report. There were 15 million visits to the Drudge Report yesterday. I don't know anybody in Washington that isn't aware of this story. So you get into this excruciating dilemma: How do you talk about it? Should you talk about it? I've talked about it from a -- removed, talking about the story as a press story, which is what we're doing now, without mentioning the details of it.

But I have to say, I am deeply conflicted about it. I don't know what -- can you anymore not talk about something that's on the front page of the "Times of London," front page of the Drudge Report, on everybody's minds. There comes a point at which the media has to acknowledge people are talking.

KURTZ: But on that point, Frank Rich, in the first 24 hours, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh picked this up, the Web sites of the "Wall Street Journal" and "National Review," "Chicago Sun-Times" and "Philadelphia Daily News" did a little bit, and the British press has jumped on this with great glee. What does that tell us about the way the media food chain works when after all, there may not be a story here? What we have is an unsubstantiated rumor.
First you should note that Kurtz is basically attempting to play in the mud without getting his own hands dirty with this should we be reporting these unsubstantiated SEX RUMORS ABOUT KERRY shtick. Then realize that, within a day, completely unfounded rumors about a Democrat went global.

You know, it would be bad enough if the press just had this attitude about sex, but they don’t. Here’s Thomas Ricks—author of Fiascobeing interviewed by wingnut Hugh Hewitt.
HH: You quote on Page 431, Juan Cole, the University of Michigan leftist, who's a...

TR: Oh, good. The one lefty quote in the whole damn book, and you dig it out.

HH: (laughing) I read closely, Tom Ricks. I read very closely.

TR: But I want to remind you, though, the ratio of conservatives to liberals quoted in this book is probably about a hundred to one.
Get that? Thomas Ricks admits that the ratio of conservatives to liberals in his book was 100-1 and doesn’t bat an eye. And even then, Hewitt goes on bitch about Cole’s quote. This is why Democrats who have been arguing about real changes of strategy in Iraq get ignored in the press, but, if a Republican says it’s only 92 percent perfect, they get a frontpage story. This is why McCain and Warner still get credit for “standing up to the president” on the torture issue, even though, once they got the Scooby Snacks for which they were begging, they rolled over and decided he could imprison and torture whomever he wished.

People, we have got to hold the press’s feet to the fire. I don’t mean that we should, like Hewitt and other rightwingers, demand that the press exclusively quote our sources, but we should ask them why they were unwilling to even investigate further the claims of a Democrat, since that failure clearly put more pages at risk.

Of course, the numerous “our bads” from the press on their willingness to accept Bush’s claims about Iraq without scrutiny should have changed the way the press investigates and balances the information they’re given, but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in.

Thousands and thousands of Americans and Iraqis dead and it still doesn’t sink in.

But death bores the press when it’s repetitive and, well, sex scandals sell. Let’s see if they sink in.

Update: Boehlert has more on the press and Foley.

Update: Edited brain error. I wrote "Tom Foley" rather than "Mark Foley." Thanks, Jim. I do know why I was thinking about Tom Foley, though. As Wikipedia reminds us:
His thirty year career in Congress was notable for its length and for his steady climb up the ranks of the Congressional and Party leadership, and also for the manner of its conclusion: when the Republican Party gained control of Congress in 1994 after 40 years in the minority, Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House since 1860 not to be reelected.
It's a stretch, but we might not have to wait another 134 years for a repeat.

Monday, October 09, 2006

On "commas"

Today in WaPo Richard Cohen delivers a mea culpa and a devastating ruling on Bush. Read the whole thing, but here's a bit.
Not too long ago, I embraced the commas myself. I favored this idiotic war because I thought that the deaths of some would improve -- even save -- the lives of many. I likened the about-to-die soldiers to firemen or cops, the people we summon to risk or lose their lives for the common good. I had the common good in mind when I supported the war, and I did not expect much space between the commas. Now, the space expands and expands, one comma marching away from the other. It seems we will need room for all of Iraq.
Even though he gives Bush too much credit--Cohen himself once wrote about Bush's "willingness to tolerate almost any tactic on his way to a goal," so it seems odd that he's willing to say that he attacked Iraq believing he's "on his way to something grand" (I chalk it up to self-reflexive defensiveness)--in the end, he says Bush will be remembered throughout history for his failure in Iraq.

Cohen has never been more right.

In his own words

I received an e-mail from someone saying that, gosh darn it, he just didn't believe the report about Bush I quote below. It is, after all from the BBC and he just didn't remember this being reported.

Well, I can't vouch for your memory, fella, but here's Bush's own memo on the subject:
Memorandum to the Secretary of State
Presidential Determination No. 2002-12
April 1, 2002
SUBJECT: U.S. Contribution to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization Determination Regarding Funds Under the Heading "Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs" in Title II of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2002 (public Law 107-115)
Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 565(c) of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2002 (public Law 107-115) (the "Act"), I hereby determine that it is Vital to the national security interests of the United States to furnish Up to $95 million in funds made available under the heading "Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs" of that Act, for assistance to KEDO, and, therefore, I hereby waive the requirement in section 565(b) to certify that:
(1) the parties to the Agreed Framework have taken and continue to take demonstrable steps to implement the Joint Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula;

(2) North Korea is complying with all provisions of the Agreed Framework; and

(3) The United States is continuing to make significant progress on eliminating the North Korean ballistic missile threat, including further missile tests and its ballistic missile exports.
You are hereby authorized and directed to report this determination and the accompanying Memorandum of Justification to the Congress, and to arrange for publication of this determination in the Federal Register.

GEORGE W. BUSH
Again, this was three months after declaring them a member of the "Axis of Evil."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hey, thanks George

Well, Bush has fucked us again.
U.S. and South Korean intelligence detected a seismic event at a suspected nuclear test site in North Korea, the White House said Monday, a few hours after North Korea claimed it had conducted an underground nuclear test.
Lest we forget, he tossed a bunch of money at the third leg of the "Axis of Evil" and said, "Hey, don't worry about it. We don't need to know what you're doing with it."
The US Government has announced that it will release $95m to North Korea as part of an agreement to replace the Stalinist country's own nuclear programme, which the US suspected was being misused.
Under the 1994 Agreed Framework an international consortium is building two proliferation-proof nuclear reactors and providing fuel oil for North Korea while the reactors are being built.

In releasing the funding, President George W Bush waived the Framework's requirement that North Korea allow inspectors to ensure it has not hidden away any weapons-grade plutonium from the original reactors.

President Bush argued that the decision was "vital to the national security interests of the United States".
And he did that roughly three months after saying they were part of the "Axis."

Good thinking, dumbass.

Update: Unfortunately, I might have been spared some embarrassment if I'd only read the General, who posted this same quote earlier today and assures me this is all part of the grand plan.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rising stench

Newt Gingrich, yesterday:
"What we don't have to do is allow our friends on the left to lecture us on morality," Gingrich said at a party fundraiser in Greenville. "There's a certain stench of hypocrisy."
Newt has forgotten the classic rule. He who smelt it, dealt it.
Critics of Gingrich have long made much of the insensitivity he demonstrated in serving his first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital being treated for cancer. Nor did news of his efforts to cut life insurance coverage for the mother of his children always endear Gingrich to his family values supporters, but it was generally assumed that his marital errors were in the past.

This time, his approach was less personal. Marianne Gingrich told the Washington Post that she was informed of the affair and the request for a divorce last May in a telephone call from Newt to her mother's home, where she was visiting.

After first expressing best wishes to his mother-in-law on her 84th birthday, he asked to speak to his wife, who was soon reduced to tears by Newt's news.

"I said, 'Marianne, what's wrong?' " Gingrich's mother-in-law told the Washington Post, and she said her daughter replied, "He doesn't want me as his wife anymore." According to the Post: "There was a second jolt soon afterward. Newt Gingrich, now 56, informed his wife that he was having an affair with a congressional aide, a woman 23 years his junior."
I should mention that Gingrich made the comments about supposed Dem immorality at a Greenville, South Carolina, fundraiser where he was (as the AP photo captions say) trying to get Republicans “fired up” for the election.

Please note that the twice-divorced philanderer, brought in to talk about Democratic immorality, also said Democrats punish their “offenders” less.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Smoot had no idea

George Smoot, who won the Nobel Prize in physics two days ago, once said that "looking" into the cosmic static left behind by the Big Bang was "like looking at God."

Today, the Hubble researchers released these photos, in which possible planets can be seen.



I just want to take a moment from the grubby, dirty little political fighting on this planet to say, "Hello, God."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Priorities

Hey! The military got a pay raise!
Veterans and employee groups decried the pay decision as meager.

"We're extremely disappointed, to put it mildly, that Congress couldn't see its way clear to provide more than a 2.2 percent pay raise for the troops who are putting their lives on the line every day for the rest of America," said Steve Strobridge , director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America.

"That's the smallest military raise in 13 years," he noted.
Now, if the consumer price index goes up more than 2.2 percent (which it will), then Congress just lowered military members' buying power.

So, what is important to the Republican-controlled Congress?
Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.

Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation's capital "for commemoration of success" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.

Now Congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.
Support the troops, bitches!

Misremembering

Today, Jim Kouri at the Blog Urban Elephants got a link from HuffPo. Despite his claim that the Mark Foley saga demonstrates a "double standard" on the part of Democrats and the news media, he never actually demonstrates the claim.

He writes about the 1983 scandal when Democrat Gerry Studds and Republican Dan Crane were censured for having sex with pages--Studds with a male. Unfortunately for Kouri, he not only fails to make a point, he also gets things just plain wrong. He writes:
During the Studds controversy, the Republican minority in the House fell silent and there were no demands for an FBI criminal investigation or special hearings in congress.
Silent? Um, no. The introduction to the CQ Electronic Library's copy of the "Report of the Special Counsel to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct into Allegations of Improper or Illegal Sexual Conduct by Members of the House of Representatives" reminds us that
the panel found that Studds in 1973 had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page, who might have been 16 at the time the relationship began. In addition, the panel said Studds made sexual advances on two other male pages in 1973.

Crane, the panel said, had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page in 1980. Since the legal age of consent in the District of Columbia is 16, the panel accused neither Studds nor Crane with a crime. Nevertheless, the panel felt that any sexual relationship, consensual or not, between a member and a page constituted improper sexual conduct.

[snip]

In choosing an appropriate penalty for Crane and Studds, Califano cited as precedents the two most recent cases of censure and expulsion. In 1980 the House censured Charles H. Wilson, D-Calif. (1963—81) for bribery. The same year, the House expelled Michael “Ozzie” Myers, D-Pa., (1976—80), who was convicted on Abscam bribery charges. Califano concluded, “Measured against the precedents, neither expulsion nor censure is warranted.” Califano added, though, “The institutional integrity of the House of Representatives requires that the House itself act.” He recommended a reprimand, and the committee agreed by an 11-1 vote. (Wilson censure, Historic Documents of 1980, p. 485; Myers expulsion, p. 899)

But for some members, this was not enough. “I want to change the precedent,” Gingrich said. “The precedent is ridiculous.” He said if Studds or Crane were a teacher or police officer, he would be fired.

Supporting Gingrich, Chalmers P. Wylie, R-Ohio, said July 18 he would support a stiffer penalty unless both members resigned.

[snip]

“If we do not expel Studds,” Gingrich said July 19, “I would abolish the page system.”
Gingrich couldn't call for an investigation, because while, like the Foley issue, concerns were reported before the relationship which caused the problem, they were reported to fellow pages, who didn't seem to buy it and didn't tell House leadership.

As soon as Speaker Tip O'Neil found out about the issue, however, he leapt to action as special counsel Joseph A. Califano, Jr., recalls in tomorrow's WaPo.
Within a week the House had authorized its ethics committee to conduct a full investigation of allegations of "sexual misconduct, illicit drug distribution and use, and offers of preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors or drugs by Members, officers or employees of the House." House Speaker O'Neill and Minority Leader Robert Michel asked me to be special counsel to the ethics committee, co-chaired by Ohio Democrat Lou Stokes and South Carolina Republican Floyd Spence. I was allowed to select my own staff and given a commitment that I could follow the evidence wherever it led, because, as O'Neill and Michel said, "The integrity of the House is at stake."
So, if there is a double standard here, it's on the part of Republicans who have decided that a cover-up of crimes which echo non-criminal activity from 20 years ago isn't a big deal.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Boogeymen

John Quiggan, one of the smart people over at Crooked Timber has a simple question: How would they like it if Dems were giving the nearly unlimited powers they're currently lavishing on Bush to President Hillary Clinton?

It's not like no one has thought this before. It is, as I said, a simple question, but so many people keep wondering why Republicans just don't get it. Robert Farley at Tapped used Quiggan's piece as a leaping off point and asks what Republicans plan to do if they lose power in the future.
Perhaps they intend no principled defense of executive power and, like John Yoo, will be willing to use the language of tyranny to attack Democrats when they regain the executive. Maybe they don't expect that Democrats will win elections in the near future. Finally, it's possible that they just haven't thought very hard about the question.
All of these options are possible, but the truth is that, for all the talk of conservative intellectualism, the conservative movement since the end of World War II has been (as I've said before) little but varying degrees of fearmongering. They've scared people about commies and blacks and hippies and, now, Muslims so that they could gather and maintain power. So, when it was convenient for Republicans to oppose the "jack-booted" civil servants of the ATF during the (first?) Clinton administration, they did. After all, the Cold War was over and fighting terrorism would have meant joining forces with the Clintonites, which would have worked against the Republican Revolution.

So now, Republicans find themselves at the end of their tethers. They've gotten what they really wanted--tax cuts for the rich and a war to scare people back to their side--and the people aren't picking up what they're putting down. The conservative intellectual still exists, but anything which might have once been called Republican intellectualism has been etiolated by years of anti-intellectual, anti-elite rhetoric. The true believers are zombified, idiotic followers of whatever they're told to follow and the true thinkers have whored themselves out to the point they wink and nudge each other over the latest bullshit they convinced the believers to carry.

Here's the problem they have today. Any reasonable, effective policy to fight terrorism would be quickly agreed to by Democrats. So I think the point is Republicans have to create ridiculously egregious policies which tromp on American civil rights in order to be able to say that Dems aren't serious about fighting terror. They have to have something people can fear. They know that this is a long-term loser, but I believe they hope they can hang on long enough to get Bush's tax cuts made permanent and tack on some more. Dems, they believe will calmly begin rolling back Bush's most over the line "unitary executive"-based policies, leaving them the classic "tax and spend Democrats" angle to fight off tax raises.

Think that's cynical? Consider that Hastert defended his party's actions in regards to the Foley scandal by saying that it might have been brought up in regards to "other things that might have affected campaigns." Hell, even GOP shill Shepard Smith had to admit that it's "horrifying" that neocons like Bill Kristol would push for staying the course in Iraq and "because of the election system and the political process you allow a losing thing to continue?"

In the end, it's always about the power to get the money to the powerful.

Matt Drudge blames teen victims of perv Congressman

Who's a fucking appeaser?

Bill Frist, who said last month that Americans "can't afford to grow complacent...can't afford to let our resolve waver," now says that we can't win against the Taliban.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Islamic militia and its supporters into the Afghan government.

The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.

"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful."

Afghanistan is suffering its heaviest insurgent attacks since a U.S.-led military force toppled the Taliban in late 2001 for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
I just don't get these fuckers at all.

Frist, who also said last month that sending Iran a "signal...of U.S. irresolution and weakness would be terrible," actually wants to deal with those who directly supported (and, likely, continue to support) Osama bin Laden.

Update: Frist backpedals. Here's a quick note to Jim Krane, the reporter who covered this event. Frist said you "badly distort(ed)" his remarks and took them out of context. He's either calling you a crappy reporter or a liar. You really want to put up with that? If you've got tape of those comments, may I suggest releasing it?

I want to thank the NRCC

The other day, I was trying to explain to a conservative acquaintance of mine exactly what it is that Tom DeLay has been accused of. After several attempts to give him a basic explanation for "money laundering," I finally said, frustrated, "It's when someone takes dirty money and makes it look clean."

Today, I have both the perfect explanation for the concept and a simple shorthand way to explain what's wrong with today's Republican party: The NRCC's attempt to launder Mark Foley's money:
Carl Forti, the communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Sunday that the committee would gladly accept Mr. Foley’s money or part of it to devote to House races. Mr. Foley already gave $100,000 to the committee in July, campaign records show, as part of the party’s Battleground Program, to which members are asked to contribute.

“The money is in the control of Mr. Foley,” Mr. Forti said. “Whatever he decides to do with it is up to him.”
You see, this one act demonstrates the crooked nature of the Republican money machine and the malleable values of the "Family Values" party. They talk about protection all day long, but, when it comes down to it, they just want the money, baby.